Sunday, September 16, 2018

Starting & Saving Seeds: Grow the Perfect Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, and Flowers for Your Garden

Starting & Saving Seeds is a new gardening tutorial with herbal by Julie Thompson-Adolf.  Due out 2nd Oct, 2018 from Quarto - Cool Springs Press, it's 160 pages and will be available in ebook and hardcover formats.

I was struck straightaway by the author's enthusiastic and upbeat writing style.  She has a very positive, encouraging voice.  Her passion for gardening comes through very clearly and reading about her reactions to the winter seed catalogs' arrival made me smile.  We're all like little kids with huge dreams when the seed catalogs hit.

This book is accessible for beginners as well as having value for more experienced gardeners who want to expand their gardening repertoire to include heirloom varieties or types of plants which are ignored or neglected by the big box stores.  Additionally, trading seeds with gardening friends and family builds up connections which add another layer of connection to our network.  I have varieties in my garden which are literally descendants of plants my family grew afnd saved seeds from for hundreds of years.  Even though my grandmother sadly passed on, decades ago, I still think of her every time I see the perennials I grew from seeds she gave me.

The book is arranged in two basic sections.  The first section, ~25% of the content, covers introductory concepts, what seeds are, how they're created, what their differences and similarities are and how to start them and nurture them into strong seedlings.  The success or failure of a garden can well be decided on the strength and vitality of the seeds and seedlings at the very beginning of the season.

The second section of the book is a general herbal covering the basics.  I was interested to see a lot of vegetables and flowers were included which I would almost never consider growing from seed (asparagus and lavender for example). She does mention the virtue of patience waiting for long-term projects such as asparagus and certainly when considered against the prospect of a 30 year productivity span, waiting 3 years for asparagus from seed seems to be reasonable. 

The book does provide a very basic introduction to identifying, saving, and processing seeds from different plants successfully.  I remember some years ago, I was involved with a seed trading round robin and there were always some well meaning gardening friends who struggled with identifying exactly -where- the seeds were and -how- to clean them so they could be saved and used.  This book would've been handy for avoiding the commonest mistakes.

The photography is lovely and supports and expands the text well.  I would have liked to have seen more specific examples of mature seed pods for different plants to show where they can be separated and stored.  Things such as Buddleia, Lobelia, and Alcea can be tricky for some gardeners to collect seeds from. 

All in all a useful and appealing book. 

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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